You and the school district should develop your child’s IEP as a partnership. IEP meetings should be nonadversarial since their purpose is to make educational decisions for the good of the student with a disability. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56341.1(h).] Both you and the district share the final decisions that are made about your child’s program. Ideally, the IEP meeting should follow this process:
- Discussion and description of your child’s current level of functioning (includes academic and non-academic functioning; and functioning in the general curriculum);
- Development of measurable annual goals, that are ambitious in your child’s circumstance and are derived from your child’s current functioning. Short-term objectives or benchmarks leading toward accomplishment of the annual goals are no longer required. However, short-term objectives or benchmarks are useful for all students, and districts are not prohibited from including them in an IEP);
- Discussion and description of the support services required by your child and your child’s teaching staff (related services, designated instruction and services, support for school personnel);
- Discussion and description of the special education and related services, including instruction in the general curriculum, supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and transition services and needs; and
- Discussion of placement recommendation and significant details of placement (for example, class size, integration and mainstreaming opportunities) that make up your child’s appropriate educational program. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.320; Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56345.]
All required members of the IEP team should attend and participate in the team meeting. IEP team members should not sign the IEP before there is a meaningful discussion of your child’s special education needs and necessary services by the IEP team.
While there is no legal procedure for how to reach agreement in an IEP meeting, the IEP team should work toward consensus. However, if a team cannot reach consensus regarding a service or placement, the district has the ultimate responsibility to offer what it believes is an appropriate program. It is not appropriate to make IEP decisions based upon a majority. Where consensus cannot be reached and a parent disagrees with the district’s proposal, the district must provide parents with “prior written notice” of that proposal, and the parents may file for due process hearing. [34 C.F.R. Part 300.503; Cal. Ed. Code Sec.